Food Writers Dwell Happily in the Past This Month
The best stories in this month’s crop of food mags are old. Saveur, which leads the year off with the Saveur 100, runs highlights from the WPA’s unpublished 1937 opus, America Eats, a documentary record of American foodways that is only now seeing the light of day; the images excerpted here are evocative and beautiful and make us eager to see the America Eats book to be published (finally) later this year. Gourmet is devoted to southern cooking, with a wonderful, previously unpublished “What Is Southern?” leadoff essay by the late Edna Lewis, formerly of Café Nicholson. Bon Appétit goes with a “Green Issue” with a long piece by Blue Hill’s Dan Barber on vegetables, an ecofriendly meat guide by sausage guru Bruce Aidells, and a moving essay on a vegetarian who returns to the meat wagon because of sausages. Food & Wine is something of a bore, consisting mostly of lists of “Tastes to Try in 2008,” most of which were short on detail and long on obviousness. (Fiamma has a new chef!) Finally, Food Arts, which won’t come out till later this week, has a major service feature on beef, along with an essay by French Culinary Institute techno whiz Dave Arnold on hydrocolloids, a class of gelatins big in molecular-gastronomy circles.